It’s not clear if Linarte López’s trip was Texas to D.C. to North Carolina, but the Times reports that Abbott’s free rides have dropped some migrants off in the state, along with locations in Alabama and Georgia. Nearly 200 have traveled from Texas to D.C., where they’ve been “greeted by volunteers” who then “help them reach their desired destinations around the country to await their day in immigration court,” the report said.
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“In a way, it’s actually perfect,” Welcome With Dignity spokesperson Bilal Askaryar said in the report. “Unintentionally, Governor Abbott sent them to one of the best places in the nation to welcome people.”
That, of course, was never Abbott’s goal. He initially peddled a plan that sounded a lot like he was going to kidnap groups of people across state lines. That was in front of cameras and reporters. But he was sedate in the state’s official release, which stated that the busing would actually be voluntary. "Any forcible busing of migrants across the country would be outrageous and blatantly unconstitutional," ACLU of Texas staff attorney Kate Huddleston said in a statement reported by The Texas Tribune.
Eternally a gross human being, Abbott then made sure the busing was done in coordination with right-wing media. Not only did Fox News air dozens of segments about the stunt (which it of course didn’t do when it came to the failed $4 billion policy), but the first bus from Texas parked in front of a building that houses the outlet’s D.C. studio, Media Matters said. Political hosts from the network then applauded Abbott as having kept his promises, blah blah blah.
But even if Abbott has said his free rides are voluntary, advocates have expressed worry that some migrants feel pressured to accept the ticket, Media Matters noted. Some may see uniforms and feel like their only option is to do whatever the officers suggest. I mean, if Abbott is going to give people free rides anyway, he could just have community-based organizations handle that for him. But that wouldn’t play as well on Fox News, would it?
Back in Washington, D.C, the Times reports that volunteers have used apps like WhatsApp to try to coordinate aid for newly arrived migrants. Texas has purposefully not shared bus arrival times (or even where they’ll drop people off), so they do their best estimations. But once they do get there, volunteers help them with food, plans for their next stop if they’re not staying in D.C., and reminders to check in with federal immigration officials as required.
Alberto Valdes Garcia, who was trying to get to Kentucky, was connected to a Quaker guesthouse for some rest before flying out of Ronald Reagan National Airport with a ticket provided by the Central American Resource Center. The Times reported that a volunteer would help make sure he got on to his flight okay. What a stark difference here: Abbott, showing the worst of humanity. Then these volunteers, showing the best.
“There’s all these advocates here who understand the system and understand the needs,” Askaryar continued in the report. “It might not have been the governor’s intention—I think he clearly wanted to create some kind of chaos—but the reality is that we’re really well prepared and really excited to welcome these people.” Chadrack Mboyo-Bola, a migrant from Brazil, certainly seemed appreciative. “I would like to say thank you to the governor of Texas,” he said in the report.
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